The baseball season is the longest of all sports seasons. 162 games is grueling. It’s the marathon of all marathons. So to judge a team after nine or ten games seems irresponsible. But that begs the question; How soon is too soon?
The San Diego Padres are dead last in offense this season. As a team, they are batting .178/.290/.290. Their pitchers have combined to go 2-7 with a 3.76 ERA, but have already allowed 10 home runs in the first nine games. Defensively, San Diego has committed the third most errors in the National League. Now errors are not a good measure of defense because they are so subjective, but the errors charged to the Padres are clearly errors. In fact, the official scorekeeper in a few games has been very generous with the “hits” he’s charged instead of errors in some cases. The bottom line? This is not the start the Padres were hoping for.
Fans are understandably on edge. What does a 2-7 start mean? What do these offensive woes mean? This team was supposed to have improved offensively and at least stayed the same from a pitching standpoint. In fact, they have a stockpile of prospects ready to come up. So when one of those prospects, Joe Wieland gets shelled in his first major league start, what are fans to think?
Baseball is a strange game. Streaks go on for almost no reason. Teams go cold or teams get hot. When it happens, you know it is happening. Everyone in the park knows when it’s happening. Everyone at home and in the sports bars can see it. The streaks are palpable. You can see it and taste it. When your team is losing, it tastes like blood and salt. When your team is winning, it tastes like sweet honey. Most teams don’t find themselves in a rut to start the season. Just about every club is adjusting to the start of the season. The first two weeks of the season are generally about as neutral as it gets in baseball. But when that neutrality fades and a negative streak develops, panic sets in.
That’s where we are in San Diego. Panic. Cameron Maybin just received $25 million and he’s hitting around .200. Nick Hundley can’t seem to buy a hit, despite the extra money he’s making with his guaranteed contract. Cory Luebke has not been the pitcher we thought he’d be early on. Panic.
But the truth about baseball is that fortunes will change. The Padres may not finish the season in first place. They may lose 100 games. They may break even. We won’t know until much later in the season what direction this team will go. That’s the beauty of baseball. The early part of the season is a novelty. The summer months are the dog days, designed to prove who wants it more. And the end is the stretch run. Only the fittest, most prepared will survive. For now, all we can do is wait.
San Diego is 2-7. They’re losing as I write this. But the world goes on. The games go on. Cameron Maybin will hit, Nick Hundley will hit, and Chase Headley will hit. Cory Luebke will find his touch, and Huston Street will get his saves. Baseball fans in San Diego will see their team’s fortunes turn. It’s just a matter of time. If you can bear with them long enough, the team will reward you. That’s how it is in baseball. Faith in the unknown is a requirement if you’re a fan. That’s why the sport is so often compared to religion.
So keep the faith Padres fans. It ain’t over yet.